The fight for gender equality had been long and tiring, and even then women today find themselves in unexplainable and unacceptable situations in the name of religion and patriarchy. Nighat Gandhi’s ‘Waiting’ is a collection of 13 stories that shoves us into the lives of thirteen different women, caught in the monotony of life, looking for a meaningful existence that is not tainted by the laws dictated by other people.
“A sort of answer to my loneliness is emerging: maybe, some kinds of loneliness aren’t meant to end”
A peek into the intimate world of women, ‘Waiting’ wraps you in a world that seems normal, yet to live with these suppressed feelings can throw any of us into chaos that can not be solved by ordinary means. A woman imprints her father on her husband (according to her therapist) and tries to find what’s wrong in her marriage, even when she is as perfect as a wife as can be expected of any female individual. Her desire for intimacy in bed is lost and the world keeps telling her that it’s normal after having a baby and that, its the hormones playing the villain.
In another story, the importance of attaining ‘purity’ and their honesty towards God and religion gets jumbled up. Similarly, some women are being given a hard time just because they decide to shelter an old man, or for having a perfect marriage even though there is a visible lack of happiness. A rapist’s wife decides to start living with the girl her husband raped, an anxious woman writes an ‘Arzi’ to God describing her plight because that’s how the world works, and a girl suffering from self-doubt and low self-esteem.
As the seasons shuffle, very little changes in their lives. Their search for a reason is arduous, especially in a world that wants them to live within a confined set of rules. Each of the women is troubled and unable to express her grief and angst because the world isn’t accommodating enough. Gandhi’s narration is straightforward and brutal, and her choice of issues represents a diversity of problems that converges to one single point of constant agony.
‘Waiting’ is everything life encompasses and Nighat Gandhi gives them an unrelenting voice, questioning our vulnerability and writing it all in a convincing and relatable manner.
Blurb (as on Goodreads):
In this new collection by Nighat Gandhi, the private worlds of women open themselves up to the reader. Inside their homes, women are trapped in a state of continuous limbo, waiting for change; young girls struggle for the “purity” that religion demands of them; new mothers wonder at the absence of desire. Outside, the seasons change—trees shed their leaves, the sky becomes overcast, and rain falls. Sounds float inside, and the women wonder about the meaning of life. Each story elicits a new, sometimes troubling, question about living as a woman in the world today. The characters’ nuanced descriptions and unsparing truthfulness leaves readers with a sense of discomfort as they confront their own demons. With subtle force, Waiting explores love, longing, loss, aging, survival, hope, and self-invention—the most powerful realities of life.
*Thank you to the publisher for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own*